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Sunday , July 3 , 2011
 
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Stigma and God on freed Maria’s lips

Mumbai, July 2: Maria Susairaj, who was released from Byculla jail this afternoon, told a packed news conference she was innocent in the murder case of film executive Neeraj Grover.

The Kannada starlet, convicted of concealing evidence in the 2008 murder, said: “All I know is that I am innocent. I have left my past behind. I haven’t realised what is happening. I have not digested the fact that I am convicted. That is a big stigma for me.”

She said she would appeal against the conviction before Bombay High Court.

A group of Grover’s friends gatecrashed into the media conference shouting slogans, and holding placards that read: “Justice for Neeraj Grover — Stop promoting crime/criminals”.

Susairaj, dressed in a brown salwar-kameez, appeared shaken by the conviction and the media frenzy. “I have spent three years and 41 days in the jail. I should say I was blessed. I got close to God and believed in God, and (it is) He who has got me out today. I did a lot of paintings and prayer meets and lot of activities inside the jail,” Susairaj said. She visited the Mahim church today.

Susairaj repeatedly refused to speak about her relationships with Grover and Emile Jerome, her boyfriend who was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Jerome has been sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. Susairaj was handed three years, which she has already spent in jail.

The starlet said she sympathised with Grover’s Kanpur-based parents, who were distraught after the verdict. “Losing somebody in your family is not easy. The whole scenario is not easy,” the she said.

Asked about the verdict, she said: “I am not in a position to state if the court’s verdict is right or wrong. The court has done what it believed was right.”

Her lawyer Sharif Sheikh, who organised the media conference, dismissed the claim that Grover was hacked into 300 pieces by Susairaj and Jerome before they took the body parts in two bags to the jungles of Manor in Thane district where they burnt and tried to destroy the remains.

To prove his point, he showed a photograph of a burnt skeleton that was included by the prosecution and said: “Can you see if the body was cut into 300 parts in this photograph shot by the investigating officer Raorane? The rib cage, the skull are intact. If the body was hacked into 300 pieces, could these parts have been intact on a skeleton found by the police? This was false information provided by the police to the media…. We will immediately file an appeal against the verdict after we get a copy of the judgment on July 7.”

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